I feel like the devs had a big challenge finding ways to make iconic weapons like the bolter, chainsword, and power weapons feel unique and satisfying without making them completely overpowered. While I think they more or less hit the mark with the bolter, most of the powered melee weapons had their “signature characteristic” attached to a special attack charge mechanic that only activates for a single swing (or several in the case of the power sword, for whatever reason this one was singled out).
This has been cause for a lot of criticism from the players and there are some very valid points. The biggest wish I hear is that powered weapons should be “always on”, so how can this be done without automatically making them the best?
POWER SWORD: In the case of the power sword, I feel like it’s actually in a pretty good place, since having high cleave when it’s switched on is what it’s supposed to be good at, if anything the damage needs to be toned down just a little bit (bear in mind I still have yet to venture into tier 4 and 5 difficulties, my opinions are based solely on high intensity malice, but this also serves as the “middle ground” so it’s a good reference point).
CHAIN WEAPONS: The chainswords have been going in the right direction, at least in terms of animation and sound, but there is a discrepancy where the line between a revved heavy attack and a revved special attack is unclear. Chain weapons should just rev on heavy attacks, the more the heavy is charged, the higher they rev, since you’re winding up and holding down the throttle longer before you swing. The special attack should be reserved for strategic options, like reversing the chain to fling enemies away from you to create space or cause stagger, or in the case of the eviscerator which is also equipped with a weak power field generator, could be used like the power sword to switch it on and increase cleave for a couple swings to help in dealing with hordes (it already does this to some extent, but making the distinction clear by replacing the “rev” animation with making the teeth glow with energy would be cool).
THUNDER HAMMER: The thunder hammer has a capacitor which supposedly always charges and releases its power field in one blast when it hits something, so it should do this. The head should always crackle and glow with energy when not in use, and it should charge up over 1 or 2 seconds passively to release its AoE stagger blast on the next hit (weaker than the power maul, but always active, charging in the background passively).
The special attack should overcharge it, generating heat and building up a massive charge to blast through elite armor or dealing with crowds of enemies, while at the same time disabling the capacitor for some time while it cools down, so you can basically “borrow” energy from the future to deal with one high priority situation now.
FORCE SWORD: The force sword is ok, since it acts like a capacitor for the psykers own energy to be released on the next thing it touches.
POWER MAUL: The power maul is also ok since lore wise it’s designed to have a variable power setting depending on the situation.
Changes like this would help to make the powered weapons feel more “meaty” and interesting to use, with good strategic options that aren’t immediately overpowered, act more in line to what one expects from the lore, and help to keep them varied and unique from one another.